When Nigeria needed Herbert Wigwe most, By Zayd Ibn Isah


Few deaths in Nigeria have shaken the country as much as that of Herbert Wigwe.

The news of Herbert Wigweʼs death, alongside his wife, son, and another prominent Nigerian, Abimbola Ogunbajo, in a tragic helicopter crash in the USA, hit Nigeria like a bolt from the blue, leaving the nation reeling in shock and sorrow. It was as if a mighty tree had fallen in the forest, shaking the very earth with palpable tremors.

Coincidentally, Herbert Wigwe’s death occurred amidst the anticipation of the 2023 African Cup of Nations Final between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and the host nation, Ivory Coast.

Wigwe was one of the great Nigerians who rose to the top by sheer dint of hard work and determination, a man with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. Until his demise, he was the co-founder of Access Bank and the Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings Ltd.

Though I never had a personal encounter with the man, the little I have read about him is enough evidence to recognize him as a noble soul who cherished his people and ardently advocated for the progress and advancement of our nation.

In an emotional video shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, Herbert Wigwe was captured addressing his people, offering reassurance of delivering top-tier education through his envisioned institution, the Herbert Wigwe University. His demeanor and words painted a vivid picture of a man who had achieved significant success in life yet remained deeply rooted in his community. Tragically, his death has dashed his aspirations of realizing this noble dream.

Herbert Wigwe’s death is no doubt a national tragedy of immense proportion. It came at a moment when Nigeria required every hand on deck to navigate its course towards progress and prosperity. There is a saying which states that in the midst of every crisis, great opportunity lies therein, and yet, Wigweʼs departure only leaves us bereft of one of our brightest beacons, extinguishing a flame that once illuminated our path forward.


The death of a philanthropist like him can be described as a loss which leaves a deep void in the fabric of society. It is similar to the falling of a mighty baobab tree whose shade provided shelter and sustenance to many creatures beneath it. In times of need, such individuals are like pillars that uphold the community, and as such, their absence is liable to leave a gaping hole in the communal support system. One can even compare it to removing a vital cog from a well-oiled machine. Their departure also serves as a timely reminder of the transient nature of life, urging us to cherish and appreciate the contributions of those who dedicate themselves to the betterment of others. Just as Wigwe said in a tweet posted on his official X handle three weeks before this tragic accident, “Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift — a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect. Letʼs honour this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days.”

I agree with everything he said. Life is truly a precious gift. And like all good things which must eventually come to an end, life is to be treasured and made the most of. By striving to be a source of blessing to as many people as possible, we honour this gift called life, and ensure that beyond death, we will continue to live on in the hearts of others by virtue of our good deeds.

Adieu, Herbert.


Zayd Ibn Isah can be reached at [email protected]